Adventurer to share Pakistan experience
When Ruth Anne Kocour presents “Walking the War Zones of Pakistan” at the Carson City Library on Tuesday, it won’t be an academic-style lecture on the region.
“I like to take the audience on the trip with me,” she said. “It’s a character-based story. It’s weird. It’s wild. It’s scary. It’s fun, and it’s funny.”
Kocour, of Reno, is a self-described author, adventurer and photographer. She wrote a book, “Facing the Extreme,” about surviving the worst storm in recorded history while climbing Mount McKinley.
She first visited Pakistan just after the War on Terror began to climb the infamous K2.
“I fell so in love with the country,” she said.
Because of the political unrest, she knew she couldn’t go into Afghanistan, but wanted to explore the 200-mile tribal belt along the northeast border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
To do so, she had to gain special permission from tribal authorities. Once inside, she said, many people told her she was the first Westerner they had seen since the war with Russia.
“It was in spending time with them that I first really learned about the Taliban,” she said. “I learned how the people there were really suffering because of them as well.”
When Kocour first started giving her presentation, she was lucky to get 20 people to show up. Now, she says, crowds are often at standing-room only.
“Now it’s a very hot topic and people are really interested,” she said.
Tuesday’s presentation will be one of several she has given in preparation for a visit from Greg Mortenson, author of “Three Cups of Tea.”
The Carson City Library is hosting the Capital City Reads Initiative, encouraging everyone in Carson City to read the book.
After seeing her presentation, Kocour said, people will have a better understanding of the area Mortenson writes about.
“I think people will understand better why that region has remained the way it has all the way back almost to Alexander the Great,” she said. “They’ll basically see most of Northern Pakistan and the topography that’s contributed to the isolation of most of the people in that area.”
Kocour also will bring in artifacts she collected from her journeys, including a war helmet, head dress and Afghan wedding necklace.
“I’ve never regretted going to Pakistan,” she said. “It remains my favorite destination ever.”